Nutrition and Lifestyle

Many American women (say 50 percent) report craving chocolate around the onset of menstruation. But that doesn't seem to be true for women in other countries. So, although cravings have been seen as biological urges, the question arises as to why the biology differs in different countries/cultures. Or does it?

Drs Julia M. Hormes and Martha A. Niemiec from the State University of New York at Albany investigated this question by having a diverse group of undergraduate women respond to a series of questionnaires about the frequency of their cravings for chocolate, and their level of acculturation.(1) The women were American (101), second generation American (93), or foreign-born (81). Those identified as "American" were born in the U.S. and English was their native language....

Whenever I hear the term "clean food" the image that springs to mind is of a raccoon supposedly "washing" its food before consuming it.  Next comes a litany of possible food contaminants, and means of reducing their presence on our consumables. But just as "organic" has taken on a meaning far from that used by chemists, "clean food" has little to do with either definition. What's come to be called 'orthorexia' is a preoccupation with food quality as defined as much by what it doesn't contain as with what it does. Although the experts have not agreed that orthorexia should be considered a separate type of eating disorder (as distinct from anorexia or...

Vitamin B3 is smack in the middle of the news because of a study showing that it may help prevent birth defects and miscarriages (See Julianna LeMieux's companion piece "Study Finds Vitamin B3 Prevents Birth Defects And Miscarriages"). Since there are certain aspects of B3 that are confusing, this is probably a good time for a primer about the vitamin:  

  • It has multiple names, which are similar and confusing
  • A bottle of vitamin B3 may consist of one of two closely-related chemicals. But only one of them is really B3
  • B3 is essential in all living cells 
  • Sometimes it's a vitamin and sometimes it's a drug (and a lousy one at that)...

We're so used to hearing advice about decreasing our sodium (and therefore salt) consumption that advice to do the opposite sounds like something the Onion might publish. But no, this is real advice, published in Gulf News. And the scientist who is giving this advice is Dr. James J. DiNicolantonio, a researcher at  Saint Luke’s MidAmerica Heart Institute, Kansas City, Missouri.

For years, Dr. DiNicolantonio has been questioning the advice made by numerous governmental and medical groups that we should all decrease our intake of sodium. For example, the American Heart...

If you've ever gotten sick from eating tuna, it's sort of like food poisoning but isn't really. If you've ever had an allergic reaction to tuna, it's sort of like an allergy but isn't really.

If (if?) you are hopelessly confused at this point, let's open up the can and look at what's going on.

The science of "poisoning by tuna" is rather interesting, and, although the chemical for the toxin that is responsible has an obscure name, scombrotoxin (1), you know it by its more common alias—histamine, which is formed in certain decaying fish, especially those with dark meat. 

Scombrotoxin poisoning is different from "typical" food poisoning, for example, that from eating undercooked hamburger. The histamine that forms on the tuna survives cooking,...

Cook County, Illinois, Chicago's home, has now implemented its long-sought tax on sweetened beverages, including soda and so much more. Those wishing to buy both sugar and artificially-sweetened soda, as well as ready-to-drink sweetened coffees and teas, sports and energy drinks, and juice products that aren't 100 percent juice will be paying an additional penny per ounce. That is, of course, if they don't go outside the county to make their purchases.

Supposedly the purpose of such taxes is to decrease the amount of these beverages that people will buy — and therefore they will choose more healthful drinks — like water perhaps? And that, in turn, will...

Growing up, indoor tanning was considered part and parcel of one's beauty regimen. Male or female it was no matter, having a great off-season tan was an absolute must-have. Little thought, if any, was given to the fact that people might be walking into a cancer den. Or at least an increased risk of it.

Indoor tanning provides concentrated, potent ultraviolet radiation (UVR) emitted by sources such as tanning beds, lamps, bulbs and booths. The ultraviolet portion of the solar radiation spectrum, comprised mainly of UVA and UVB, is the most mutagenic – causing changes in a cell's genetic material – and the most harmful. It is associated with an increase incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma (basal and squamous cell) skin cancer, as well as premature skin aging and eye damage,...

As millions of uninspired, would-be exercisers know all too well, the reasons to avoid working out are endless.

"I can't fit it into my schedule" ... "it takes too long" ... "I don't go enough to make a gym membership worthwhile" ... and "I don't see enough results from going" are just a few of the tried-and-true, go-to excuses. 

If this is beginning to sound a little like your way of thinking, here are two words to strongly consider: jumping rope.

Often overlooked and easily dismissed as too juvenile or childlike an activity, when you break it down jumping rope offers a wide range of health benefits. It can be great exercise that can be done practically anywhere – and after buying an inexpensive rope it doesn't cost a dime. Two other advantages: significant...

Among other natural items that are dangerous, Salmonella bacteria rank high on the list. Consuming foods contaminated with this bug can be life-threatening — especially for the young, the old, and people with compromised immune systems. While we often think of meats when considering the sources of food-borne illnesses, fruits and vegetables are also on the list.

Consider the recent outbreak of Salmonella linked to a particular brand of Mexican papayas — the yellow Maridol papaya distributed by the Grande Produce company. According to an article in The New York Times, one person has died and 46 others have been sickened...

In their latest move to protect consumers from deadly chemicals that aren't deadly, the member states of the European Union have voted to set legal limits on the amount of acrylamide in foods. Acrylamide, of course, is the chemical naturally formed when foods containing large amounts of carbohydrates that also contain protein are cooked at high temperatures — think fried and baked potatoes and bread, and many many other foods (even coffee).

A couple of years ago the European Food Safety Authority said that acrylamide is a carcinogenic risk for all age groups. The folks behind a lot of this attention is a "sustainability pressure group" called Changing Markets. Like similar American groups, they made...